Are you feeling unfulfilled and disconnected from your work? Do you struggle to find meaning and purpose in your daily tasks? If so, you're not alone. Many people, especially those just starting out in their careers, experience a sense of languishing – a feeling of being stuck and unfulfilled. However, it's important to remember that you don't have to stay in this rut. With the right strategies and mindset, you can break free from languishing and start flourishing in your career. Today we will explore three steps to help you do just that.
Step 1: Set Boundaries
The first step to stopping languishing is to set boundaries. This means establishing clear limits on your time, energy, and emotions, and making space for reflection and planning. When you set boundaries, you're able to protect your most valuable resources and focus on what's truly important to you.
One way to set boundaries is to identify areas where you're feeling resentful or frustrated. Ask yourself, "Where am I feeling resentment and frustration regarding my time and energy?" Once you've identified these areas, you can start setting boundaries to protect yourself. For example, you might set a boundary around your work hours, refusing to work late nights or weekends unless absolutely necessary. Or, you might set a boundary around your energy, saying no to tasks that drain you and focusing on tasks that energize you.
Setting boundaries also allows you to make time for reflection and planning. By setting aside dedicated time for reflection, you can step back from the daily grind and think about your long-term goals and aspirations. This can help you identify areas where you want to grow and change, and make a plan to get there.
Step 2: Reflect on Your Path, Success, and Mission
Once you've set boundaries and made time for reflection, the next step is to reflect on your current path, success, and mission. This means taking a step back and assessing how you got to where you are today, what success looks like for you, and what values are most important to you right now.
Start by asking yourself some questions:
How did I get here? What choices and experiences led me to this point in my career?
What does success look like for me? What are my goals and aspirations?
What are the values that are most important to me right now? What kind of work environment and culture align with these values?
Reflecting on these questions can help you identify any disconnect between your current reality and your ideal career path. You might find that you're on the right path, but there are certain aspects of your job that aren't aligned with your values or goals. Or, you might realize that you're on the wrong path altogether and need to make a change.
Step 3: Craft Your Job
If you've reflected on your path, success, and mission and found a disconnect between your current reality and your ideal career path, the next step is to craft your job. This means proactively taking steps to improve your happiness at work and align your job with your values and goals.
One way to craft your job is to identify aspects of your work that align with your values and goals, and focus on these areas. For example, if you're a writer and your company's mission aligns with your personal values, you might focus on writing articles that support this mission. Or, if you're a software developer and you're passionate about innovation, you might seek out projects that allow you to work on cutting-edge technology.
Another way to craft your job is to seek out new opportunities within your current company. You might talk to your manager about taking on new responsibilities or switching to a different role that aligns more closely with your interests and strengths. Or, you might seek out opportunities to work on cross-functional teams or projects that allow you to learn new skills and expand your network.
Feeling unfulfilled and disconnected from your work can be a challenging and demotivating experience. However, by setting boundaries, reflecting on your path, success, and mission, and crafting your job, you can break free from languishing and start flourishing in your career. Remember, it's never too early or too late to take control of your career and make a change. By taking proactive steps to improve your happiness and alignment at work, you can find meaning, purpose, and fulfillment in your career.
Jonathan H. Westover, PhD is Chief Academic & Learning Officer (HCI Academy); Chair/Professor, Organizational Leadership (UVU); OD Consultant (Human Capital Innovations). Read Jonathan Westover's executive profile here.